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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

Ice Age 3 - Dawn of the Dinosaurs [Blu-ray]

 

(Carlos Saldanha, 2009)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: 20th Century Fox Animation / Blu Sky Studios

Blu-ray: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: A

Runtime: 1:34:03.304

 

Runtime: 2:02:49.153

Disc Size: 46,175,017,296 bytes

Feature Size: 31,413,712,896 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.68 Mbps

Chapters: 20

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 27th, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC @ 36 Mbps

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 4674 kbps 7.1 / 48 kHz / 4674 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1-ES / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio French 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English SDH, Spanish, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), none

 

Extras:

• Commentary by the filmmakers

• Evolution Expedition – in HD (18:24)

• Unearthing the Lost World – in HD (8:41)

• Buck: From Easel to Weasel – in HD (7:12)

• Walk the Dinosaurs: Music Video – in HD (1:32)

• 2 Unfinished Deleted Scenes – in HD (4:33)

• 2 Scrat Shorts [No Time for Nuts & Gone Nutty] – in HD (11:54)

• The Scrat Pack: The Saber Toothed Squirrel & Scrat from Head to Toe (10:12), Breaking Story (1:50), News Report (2:29), & Falling for Scrat (8:29) – in HD

• 5 Fox Movie Channel Previews – in SD (27:54)

• Ice Age Storybook Maker

• Disc 2: DVD of feature film with commentary

• Disc 3: Digital Copy Disc

 

 

The Film:

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
"Dawn"? Shouldn't that be "Return"? Even the characters in this movie know these dinocritters have been extinct for some while now. Title aside, Ice Age 3 has two things going for it that were pretty much absent in the first two movies: serious color and up-to-date animation. You'll remember that the first two movies had a great deal of blue sky and white snow and ice on which to place their perilously two-dimensional movement – not that this was a fault, at least not in the original. On the contrary, I took it all as something of a breath of fresh air – a kind of return to the roots, as it were. But by Ice Age 2: The Meltdown the lack of visual substance was becoming a liability, especially in terms of color. Enter the dinosaurs, who, if nothing else, demand an entirely new lost world in which to lose our characters – and it is a world rich in saturated color. Hurrah!

The theme for the Ice Age saga has been Family and Survival. In the first movie, while everyone else heads south to get the jump on the coming ice age, Manny the Mammoth (Ray Romano) and Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo), joined by Diego the Saber Tooth Tiger (Denis Leary) head north to rescue an infant human. After a gripping climax in which Diego faces off against whis fellow tigers, the three go off into the sunset in what promises to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. The trio is threatened by Manny's love interest, Ellie (Queen Latifah) in Ice Age 2, but by the end, the trio becomes a quartet, with a couple of possums who tag along just to annoy the audience. In the beginning of this third installment, Ellie is pregnant, Diego hears the call of the wild, and Sid becomes obsessed with becoming a parent himself. The plot thickens when Sid happens upon a trio of large eggs that soon hatch into little dinosaurs. It's love at first sight – that is, until their mother returns to claim her children.

One thing leads to another and once again a rescue is necessitated when Sid is taken off into a Lost World where dinosaurs rule and Manny, Ellie and Diego follow in pursuit. They are guided by the one mammal who has survived by his wits and action hero skills – Buckminster Weasel (Simon Pegg). Buck has his own personal nemesis in these parts, a huge albino Baryonx named Rudy. Rudy and the other dinobrutes don't talk much, but they can make a pretty good roar when the occasion arises. These two live for the challenge of facing each other to the death – only . . .

Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth, Scrat has found a love interest of his own which plays itself out like a series of commercials for itself throughout the movie.
 


 

Image: 9/9    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

Fox has given the royal treatment for this sequel: Instead of single layer @ 18 Mbps, we get dual-layer @ 36 Mbps. While there are stretches of a curious softness, for the most part the image is quite sharp, with all the detail, texture and popping contrast you could want – though never as nuanced as, say, Monsters, Inc. I found no compression artifacts, enhancements, DNR or noise. An outstanding transfer that reflects the filmmakers intentions, no doubt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 6/7
The audio, too, has been given a small bump to 7.1, though this hasn't helped the voices any, which are curiously thick and surprisingly flat. Vocal characterization remains flawless, adding Simon Pegg as Buck the Weasel. While the music and effects are more dynamically realized, I can't say I was thrilled by any of it. Surrounds are not nearly as engaged as expected. Bass and LFE are present when the dinos are tramping through the jungle, and there is a certain amount of whooshing about, but it's not as precise as we have come to expect these days.

 

Operations: 6
Once again with the hidden details on the menu! We click on a special feature to reveal a Play All plus a couple of the "All," but others may be hidden below the frame. It's not like there are ever so many that the designers couldn't have had a single frame to list them. Same goes for the Special Features in general, which could have been subdivided into Scrat stuff and all the rest, for example.

 

 

Extras: 6
Like the previous Ice Age Blu-ray, Dawn of the Dinosaurs is fully aware of their star character: Scrat, and there is plenty here for his fans – all in HD - even if you are only lukewarm about the feature film. We find two Scrat Shorts, which are awesome,, a faux documentary about the saber-toothed squirrel, complete with the obligatory, but tedious, scratches. There is, however, a refreshing bit on how one artist approaches drawing Scrat.
 

 

Bottom line: 6
While better in every way than its predecessor, Dawn of the Dinosaurs still does not come up to the storytelling standards set by the original movie. All the same, I found it worth the time, and it certainly looks terrific, even if the audio doesn't match it. At this writing Amazon is offering Ice Age 3 at 50% off, which makes this a bargain.

Leonard Norwitz
November 9th, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


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